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Betting Integrity Support for Major Sporting Events


Sport and sports betting rely upon high standards of integrity. Match-fixing and related betting corruption undermines the ethos, reputation and commercial viability of sports and betting businesses. It can have an impact on the social, political and economic benefits derived from sports and sports betting. It can tarnish the reputation of participants across sport and impact upon the UK’s reputation as a safe environment within which to host sporting events and conduct gambling related business.

The Gambling Commission’s Sports Betting Intelligence Unit (SBIU) can offer support to stakeholders responsible for hosting major events and tournaments in the UK, to help manage the potential risks of match-fixing or other betting integrity issues.

Who are the Sports Betting Intelligence Unit?

The SBIU is a unit within the Gambling Commission which deals with reports of betting-related corruption. While evidence of corrupt sports betting in the UK has so far been limited to what appear to be isolated incidents, it is recognised that there is no room for complacency.

It is important for consumers to have confidence and belief that when a bet is placed with a Gambling Commission licensed betting operator, it is on markets that are fair and free from betting-related corruption.

The SBIU works closely with the betting industry, sport governing bodies, international federations and competition organisers, as well as domestic and international law enforcement agencies to understand potential threats and to help protect the integrity of sport and betting.

The SBIU collects information and develops intelligence about potentially corrupt betting activity. It receives information from various sources including (but not limited to) reports from the betting industry regarding suspicious activity on betting markets, concerns identified by sport governing bodies or tip-offs through the Gambling Commission’s confidential intelligence line.

How can the SBIU support tournament organisers?

The SBIU can provide advice and support to major event organisers regarding the design of their processes for managing betting integrity risks. The SBIU can also coordinate stakeholder engagement for incidents where criminality is suspected (see reference to the ‘Triage Process’ in the Gambling Commission’s Betting Integrity Decision-Making Framework (PDF) and support joint communications strategies.

Unusual and suspicious betting can be an indication of potential match-fixing or other integrity issues. Any betting operators offering services to consumers in Great Britain have to comply with the Gambling Commission’s Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice. This includes reporting suspicious betting activity to SBIU.

Betting operators may also, on occasion, identify sports participants placing bets in breach of sporting regulations. Licence Condition 15.1.2(2) obligates Gambling Commission licensed betting operators to share such information with those sport governing bodies named within Schedule 6 of the Gambling Act (opens in new tab).

Any support provided by the SBIU will be proportionate to the profile of the event and the potential risks that exist. The SBIU will work closely with major event organisers and other relevant stakeholders to ensure any agreed processes are fit for purpose.

The SBIU have provided integrity support to numerous major international sporting events including the:

  • 2012 Olympic Games
  • Rugby World Cup 2015
  • IAAF Athletics World Championships 2017
  • ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 and UEFA Euro 2020 (football).

On an annual basis the SBIU also works closely with the organisers for major sporting events such as the Six Nations (rugby union), Wimbledon (tennis) and The Open (golf).

Appendix 1 outlines a suite of options for organisers to consider when implementing a strategy for managing betting integrity risks for a major sporting event. It also highlights the type of support and assistance that the SBIU can provide.

Appendix 1: Managing Betting Integrity

Actions for consideration by organisers of major international events hosted in the UK

Action: Engagement with the Gambling Commission’s Sports Betting Intelligence Unit (SBIU) as soon as possible prior to the event to discuss integrity support arrangements.

Notes: This will facilitate early planning and discussion regarding key operational aspects such as intelligence collection, information sharing and communications strategies in the event of an integrity incident.

Contact details:

Sports Betting Intelligence Unit:

Action: Ensure clear betting rules and regulations are in place.

Notes: Provide clarity around which participants are covered by any rules/regulations/codes that are in place for the event (e.g. athletes, officials, coaches, support staff, friends and family, etc.).

Outline any betting restrictions that apply to participants, define misuse of inside information in the context of your particular sport, ensure participants know what to do in the event of a corrupt approach and are clear on their obligations regarding what type of information to report (and to whom).

Rules and codes should be supported by robust procedures for investigating incidents / allegations, along with a framework of sanctions that can be applied dependent upon the nature and seriousness of the incident (e.g. fines, suspensions, bans, etc.).

Consider how aligned the National Governing Body’s rules are with those of any International Federations also involved in the delivery of the event.

World Rugby’s Keep Rugby Onside (opens in new tab) is an excellent example of how to manage and promote protecting betting integrity at international level.

Actions for consideration by organisers of major international events hosted in the UK

Action: Ensure processes and procedures are in place for managing and sharing information to comply with data protection legislation.

Notes: Various pieces of legislation and accompanying guidance exist to support the sharing of information and personal data within the UK:

Further practical considerations for event organisers and sports organisations can include the following (non-exhaustive) list:

  • Identify a dedicated point of contact to handle information
  • Ensure a documented information governance framework is in place outlining your procedures for securely handling and storing data (more advice on this can be found on the website of the Information Commissioner’s Office) (opens in new tab)
  • Establish memoranda of understanding (MOU) and/or information sharing agreements with key partners.

Action: Educate all relevant participants to ensure they understand any integrity regulations that apply to them and the potential consequences of any breaches (not only to themselves but also the reputational damage it could cause to their sport, their fellow athletes/teammates, their families, etc.).

Notes: Keep communications simple and reiterate the key messages.

Keeping an accurate record of when and where education was undertaken is critical for fair and consistent application of the relevant betting rules and regulations.

Actions for consideration by organisers of major international events hosted in the UK

Action: Consider preventative options to protect athletes.

Notes: Consideration can be given to the deployment of Integrity Officers at certain venues (e.g. hotels, open training areas, sporting arenas, etc.) where participants might be at a higher risk of exposure to corrupt approaches.

Action: Ensure processes are put in place for participants to report suspicious activity and corrupt approaches.

Notes: Ensure any related policies and obligations are well communicated. Appoint a trusted source to deal with any reports and ensure processes are in place that include protection for those individuals who reporting such concerns.

Ensure education covers not just in-person approaches, but also those via social media and messaging applications, as corrupters can often pose as potential sponsors, agents or fans to initiate conversations with athletes or other sports participants.

Action: Consider conducting a ‘betting integrity risk assessment’ to determine key threats to your event.

Notes: Considerations could include risk-assessing the following aspects:

  • Risk profiles of athletes, teams and officials taking part in the event
  • Competition structure of the event
  • Available betting markets on the event.

If you require any advice on the production of ‘betting integrity risk assessments’, the SBIU can provide further guidance upon request.

Action: Identify appropriate points of contact who will deal with different types of betting integrity incidents throughout the event

Notes: Operational points of contact may be required to deal with the following types of issues:

  • Suspected event manipulation, reports of suspicious betting patterns, breaches of betting rules or sports codes, negative rumours/media coverage, etc.
  • Coordinating communications activity (e.g. multi-agency press releases) relating to integrity incidents
  • Managing reports of corrupt approaches made to participants.

Senior officials should also be identified to manage higher profile incidents (e.g. where significant negative media coverage is anticipated or where an incident is serious enough to be escalated to government ministerial level).

Action: Seek understanding of the betting markets being offered on your event.

Notes: Contacts for the major betting operators who are members of the Sports Betting Integrity Forum (SBIF) can be found on the SBIF website (opens in new tab).

There are also a number of different online resources (just search for ‘betting market comparison’) that show which betting operators are offering markets (and the specific types of market that are offered) for different sporting events at any given time.

Action: Schedule a post-event evaluation session, involving key integrity stakeholders and covering any lessons learned, good practice ideas, etc.

Notes: This could be considered on a case-by-case basis, proportionate to the profile of the event.

The aim of such a session would be to gather perspectives from a broad range of integrity stakeholders and identify challenges, successes, etc. Output could be used to inform a post-event evaluation report, owned by the sport, and used to support planning for future iterations of the event.

Actions for consideration by the Sports Betting Intelligence Unit (SBIU)

Action: Set up initial meeting to discuss support arrangements.

Notes: SBIU will outline the initial requirements for support prior to the meeting.

Useful information to be provided by the sport will include details of any betting rules in place, education programmes and information handling arrangements.

Logistics will be discussed and agreed including availability of key personnel, general operating procedures, communications strategies and, if appropriate, emergency cover arrangements.

All processes can be documented using an established set of templates.

Action: Consider whether scenario-testing should be run prior to the event.

Notes: This is usually only required for high-profile major international events but, in practice, can be applied to any events, where deemed appropriate. Such testing aims to walk through potential scenarios, testing policies and operational procedures prior to the start of an event.

Action: Produce operating procedures in conjunction with the sport.

Notes: Operating procedures could include details such as the dates of coverage of any support being provided, process for managing out-of-hours reports, information-sharing processes and other day-to-day support arrangements.

The level of support offered by SBIU will be proportionate to the potential risks and profile of the event and will be assessed on an event-by-event basis.

Action: Draft a communications policy in conjunction with the sport and other key stakeholders.

Notes: The Gambling Commission will identify a relevant colleague from within their Corporate Affairs Team as the point of contact for the sport. Event organisers will be required to identify suitable contacts within their own organisations.

Action: Identify and agree procedures for sharing information (pursuant to applicable data protection legislation).

Notes: This will be discussed in detail at the initial meeting and processes established on a case-by-case basis dependent upon the nature of the information likely to be shared and the legal status of the various stakeholders involved.

Action: Where appropriate, draft a memorandum of understanding (MoU) covering support arrangements.

Notes: This will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Action: Notify betting operators of support arrangements for the event.

Notes: In most cases support will be managed via SBIU standard business processes.

SBIU will notify betting operators of the support arrangements in place and request that an appropriate level of priority be applied to subsequent reporting processes.

Action: Where appropriate, engage the Council of Europe’s Network of National Platforms (Group of Copenhagen) (opens in new tab).

Notes: The SBIU fulfils the role of operational information hub for the UK’s National Platform. It can therefore engage with the wider ‘National Platform’ network, where appropriate, to raise awareness of the event and ensure pan-European coverage of any related integrity concerns that might be identified.

Action: Where appropriate, identify suitable law enforcement representatives to provide intelligence/operational coverage for the event with regards integrity arrangements.

Notes: This will be considered on a case-by-case basis and can form part of the operating procedures.

Action: Produce integrity stakeholder contact list and circulate as appropriate.

Notes: This ensures appropriate named points of contact are identified and in the event of an integrity incident or any other matters requiring stakeholder collaboration.

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